A few months ago, God said no. I’d been praying he would stop something from happening, something that would harm people I care deeply about but was powerless to control. But what I feared might happen did happen, and it sent me into a funk.
This isn’t my first encounter with unanswered prayer, but this one hit hard. Perhaps because I was weary. Perhaps it was because it seemed like all God had to do was one simple thing and all would be well. Now because he didn’t, people would suffer for it. So, echoing Jesus’ storm-tossed disciples, I leveled my own charge against God, hurling it as a question.
Don’t you care?
Jeff spoke today on the raising of Lazarus, and of Jesus’ lingering when his friends called for him to heal the dying man. Jesus arrives, too late and without apology, and the grieving sister’s words spoken at Jesus’ feet resound with me.
Lord if you had been here my brother wouldn’t have died.
Her words are an indictment. Jesus, you could’ve done something. You say you loved him, but you didn’t answer.
John seems to anticipate this apparent contradiction between Jesus’ love and his purposeful delay. He gives us insight on Jesus’ intentions up front. “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.” Jesus didn’t linger because he didn’t care.
He loved them, so he stayed— and his friend died.
Not but, so.
This difficult word is written for we who wonder if the unanswered prayers to spare us from suffering are a sign of God’s indifference. “So” tells us that our trials aren't due to God’s anger or his cooly calculated plans for his glory. All things in his plan, even our suffering, comes from perfect love.
“Remember this”, Charles Spurgeon once wrote, “had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are, divine love would have put you there.”...// Read full text through link in bio.
Our current reality looks like that of countless other families. Remote schooling, staying in, praying for loved ones working the hospital wards, praying for those we know with sick family members. We are trying to be vigilant, adjusting to this “pause”, missing our church and friends.
There are moments of joy at home, and these are gifts. Reminders of God’s continued goodness to us even now. There’s news of heroism in the hospitals, stories of courage and selflessness. But over it all is a palpable heaviness. I am bracing, with millions of others, for worse to come. For many the worst they feared already has arrived.
We all feel the shadow of death upon us.
Ever since the rebellion of our first mother and father, death has loomed over humanity, and we have lived in its shadow. For those of us who are anxious, its reality has always been on the forefront of our consciousness. Even while walking through green pastures and by quiet waters, the mountain Death has been in our periphery, our worst fears lurking in its darkness.
For others, the reality of death only hits home occasionally, when our own health falters or someone we know passes away. In this season though, waking and sleeping to news of COVID-19 ravaging the world, our country, our cities, we can no longer push aside the reality of our fragility and mortality.
The truth is, tomorrow has never been promised to us. We’ve always been surrounded by dangers on every side, and from our first newborn cry been headed towards our final breath.
We’ve been walking through the valley of the shadow of death all along.
But as King David declared when he sang of walking through this same way, our Shepherd has faithfully kept watch over us...
To those of us living in the land of darkness and the shadow of death, Christ came (Mt. 4:16). His coming was as the dawning of the sun, and though death still destroys, it is no longer the final victor...
The good news is that there’s another mountain, and the one who conquered on Calvary now casts his light upon us. // Read whole piece through link in bio.
#preachingtomyownheart #gospelhope #psalm23
It was good to be out for a few hours today. It was good for the kids to be under the clear sky discovering the ocean (the baby), making castles (the big girls), and throwing sticks at the waves (the boy). It was good for me to breathe deep, feel deep, and sense the darkness give way a bit.
I cried over my baby girl yesterday as I put her to sleep. Her folded hands rested tenderly on my neck and as her breathing deepened I thought of how quickly a year has come and then gone. I cried because I haven’t taken every moment in, because I’ve been restless to do other things and missed out. I cried because as sweet as these moments are, there’s a sense that they decay a bit, like old reels of film, as time passes. They’re never the same when we relive them in our minds, and that made me sad.
I heard a writer say once that all true stories are sad stories, even the happy ones, because they’ve ended. These good days will pass, I thought, and I mourned for what I haven’t even lost yet. I probably also cried because my heart has been heavy, and fleeting moments of joy seemed too weak to withstand the hard things.
But today though, out in the open air, I enjoyed the sweetness of memory-making without the sting of decay. I was reminded that the feel of my toddler’s hand in mine, the goodness of looking at my boy’s sand-covered toes, the castle moat filled with carefully collected rocks— they are realer and truer and more lasting than I know.
The goodness of God in his creation, our deep enjoyment of one another as image bearers, moments of comfort, rest, and his Presence— these are not as fleeting as I may feel. They are meaningful foretastes of the world that will be, a world without shadows, a world without decay, promised to all who trust in Christ.
God sends us the stuff of the world— things we can feel and taste and see— to remind us that as surely as his goodness still fills the earth, the World we await is realer than real and surer than sure. // (Read the rest through the link in bio.)
#keepingheartblog #gospelhope #newheavensandnewearth #thingsofthisworld #thistooshalllast #thebestisyettocome